Addicted to Energy? Find Out with Lights At Night Interactive Exhibit

Media Contact: Museum Communications Officer, Koshland Science Museum
Phone: 202-334-1201, Email: Museum Communications Officer

Maureen O'Leary, Office of News and Public Information, The National Academies
Phone: 202-334-2138, Email:

February 24, 2006Washington, D.C. — Lights at Night, an engaging interactive display developed by the Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, is now available for museums, libraries, schools and other venues. Since the museum opened in April 2004, Lights at Night has intrigued over 50,000 visitors with its hands-on comparison of energy use through the exploration of real satellite imagery. A special licensing agreement with the Koshland Science Museum will allow other venues to share Lights at Night with visitors and students across the country.

A perfect attraction for museums, libraries, and schools, Lights at Night lets users freely navigate over a 3D satellite view of the Earth at night by operating a joystick, keyboard or simple button controller. Comparing data from 1993 and 2000, users view changes in energy consumption over time. While navigating the globe, visitors and students can also zoom in on their hometowns or other areas of interest.

Powered by data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this impressive interactive exhibit highlights phenomena in specific regions and inspires conversation. “Visitors spend a considerable amount of time exploring Lights at Night, one of the Koshland Museum’s most engaging exhibits. Visualization using real satellite data shows users why the issues of renewable energy, energy conservation and emerging technologies are at the forefront of many policy debates,” states Erika Shugart, Deputy Director of the Koshland Science Museum.

What can visitors and students learn? Lights at Night imagery shows:

  • Urban sprawl and urban blight in major cities worldwide,
  • Stark contrasts in energy use over time reflecting the ebb and flow of economic development,
  • Differences in energy use as an indicator of geopolitical climate and globalization.

“The Koshland Science Museum is excited to make available this state-of-the-art exhibit. Through simple software installation and minimal hardware requirements, Lights at Night offers an entertaining interactive approach to teaching about changes in energy use,” offers Patrice Legro, Director of the museum. Digital Artefacts, a company with 3D computer graphics and simulation expertise and collaborator with the Koshland, can modify the Lights at Night set-up to best inspire exploration and interactivity for students and visitors at different institutions.

For more information about obtaining a software license for “Lights at Night,” contact the Koshland Science Museum or call 202-334-1201.